Non-invasive Down’s test on unborn children launched

PREGNANT women in the North West can access a new non invasive pre-natal screening test (NIPT) for Down’s syndrome from today.

This follows a deal between Manchester-based Premaitha Health – developer of the IONA test – and private ultrasound and pregrnancy screening clinic group This Is My Ltd.

The partnership aims to provide the IONA test to pregnant women at This Is My’s clinics in Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Hull, Coventry, Halifax, Durham and London.

The IONA test estimates the risk of a fetus being affected by Down’s syndrome and other serious genetic conditions such as Patau’s syndrome and Edwards’ syndrome by analysing fetal DNA from a sample of maternal blood.

NIPT is more sensitive and specific than the current combined test available on the NHS providing pregnant women and their families with a more accurate and reliable screening result. This reduces the incidence of unnecessary and stressful invasive procedures like amniocentesis, and the associated risk of miscarriage.

The specific advantage of the IONA test is that pregnant women in the UK can now receive the information they need to make informed decisions in a much shorter timeframe, thereby reducing anxiety. The blood sample can be analysed in local UK laboratories rather than having to be shipped to the US or China. As a result, the waiting time from blood sample to result is only five days, compared to up to two weeks for samples sent abroad.

Chief executive of Premaitha Dr Stephen Little said:“NIPT is a substantial improvement to the current standard of pregnancy care.

“This Is My share our mission to make the IONA test available to as many pregnant women as possible in the UK and have selected it as the preferred NIPT that they offer.

“This is a strong endorsement of the IONA test’s superior clinical and technical performance and the benefits of being able to provide a result in only five days.”

Managing director of This Is My Judith Pilling said: “This agreement establishes This is My as one of the first private companies in the UK to offer Premaitha’s ground-breaking IONA test.

“We are very pleased to partner with another UK company to deliver what we consider to be the gold-standard in non-invasive prenatal screening to our clients. We look forward to enhancing our pregnancy service with the test, ensuring that expectant mothers can access the information they need about their pregnancy.”